The next such case, which the Supreme Court will take up on Monday, turned out to be just a short drive away.
About five miles from Jack Phillips’ Masterpiece Cake Shop, the focal point of the battle four years ago, you’ll find a bright office in a nondescript building. Graphic designer Laurie Smith said the same Colorado public facilities law Phillips challenged prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, infringing on her deep-seated religious views and freedom of speech. It says it does.
Smith wants to expand his business and create a wedding website, but only to tell the story of the bride and groom “through God’s lens.” And she wants to tell same-sex couples on the 303 Creative LLC website that she will not create such a platform.
“Colorado censors and coerces my speech and really forces me to put my creativity into crafting messages that go against my beliefs,” Smith said in a recent interview. One of the lawyers was sitting nearby.
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Two courts ruled against Smith, saying that Colorado has a compelling interest in requiring businesses open to the public to serve all of the state’s citizens. did.
No matter how genuine Smith’s broad free speech claims were, Attorney General Philip J. Weiser, a Democrat, said in his opinion to the Supreme Court that it was not just business’ religious beliefs, but ignorance, Whimsical, bigoted, whimsical, etc. – including pure expressions of racial, sexist, or anti-religious hatred.
When the court brought Smith’s case, she refused to hear Smith’s allegations that Colorado law violated her religious freedom. Nor did he agree to listen to her request to overturn the Supreme Court’s precedent regarding the Neutrality Act, which may affect religious believers.
Instead, the judge suggests answering the following questions:
And some courtroom observers say the ruling could have even greater ramifications.
Smith is represented by the same conservative legal body that defended Phillips. Her lawsuit has been going on for years. But we arrive at a moment of disagreement over the LGBTQ rights movement.
Across the country, Congress is seeking groundbreaking federal recognition of same-sex marriage, a step unthinkable a decade ago.but the effort The lawsuit was largely motivated by concerns that the Supreme Court would one day revoke the constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples that it recognized in 2015.
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Colorado residents last year saw history-making governor Jared Polis marry First Gentleman Marlon Race. , shooting dozens of patrons and killing five, the LGBTQ community and the country were shocked.
Some wonder why the state has come to play such an important role in the Supreme Court’s consideration of whether same-sex marriage should be treated differently than traditional marriage.
The Colorado Legislature has never approved same-sex marriage. Instead, it was decreed by a federal court. But long before that, in 2008, the state outlawed discrimination against homosexuals in housing, public facilities, and employment and established civil rights protections. Based on gender identity.
Garrett Royer, director of One Colorado, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, said: But he added that he believes the campaign’s success has made the state something of a target.
“I think the conservative movement is looking at how to cut down on this very progressive anti-discrimination law in Colorado,” Royer said. “And that means taking back those protections at the national level.”
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In interviews, Smith declined to say whether she thinks same-sex marriage should be legal, and said her case was personal rather than political. She said she also works on the topic of her victory, She would be just as valuable to gay artists who don’t want to create for causes she doesn’t believe in.
The lawsuit, which has changed significantly since the 2018 ruling, left Colorado law intact, but said authorities unfairly enforced it against Phillips because of some religious prejudices. I was.
As with the court’s landmark ruling on gay rights, including marriage, Judge Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote that needle-like opinion, has retired. Phillips opponent Ruth Bader Ginsburg The judge is also dead. She was the first judge to officiate at a same-sex wedding, and an advocate warned that treating same-sex couples differently from heterosexual couples would only give new unions a “skim milk” version of marriage. was.
Kennedy and Ginsburg were replaced by more conservative judges in courts that protected free speech rights and were increasingly sympathetic to the challenges posed by religious interests. It is highly unlikely that Smith adopted the lawsuit simply to support the
Kristen Wagoner, president, chief executive officer and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, Smith’s leading conservative organization, said the court is breaking new ground to make judgments for businessmen. said there was no need to.
“The Public Utilities Act and the First Amendment have peacefully coexisted for years and decades,” Wagoner said in an interview. “This case is not about whether they continue to do so. Only whether the courts continue to follow the precedents already established.”
Wagoner’s opinion relies on the key First Amendment case that governments cannot “force speakers to support certain messages and avoid others.”
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In 1995, the court ruled unanimously. Harley vs Boston Irish American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group — The Public Facilities Act cannot be used to force the admission of gay rights groups to Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers. And Wagoner’s argument goes back to the court’s famous 1943 ruling that Jehovah’s Witness students in West Virginia should not be compelled to salute the flag or recite the pledge of allegiance. starts with.
Colorado law “turns these principles upside down, and artists must either speak a government-sanctioned message, stop speaking a message they like, or leave the market they want to participate in,” Wagoner wrote. There is
Colorado doesn’t really take website commissions to avoid breaking the law, even if the website Smith hopes to create is expressive. You don’t have to worry if companies reject them because of who they are.
The application of this law “does not affect what businesses choose to sell,” Weiser wrote in the state brief. “Once a company offers a product or service to the public, it needs to sell it to everyone.”
According to the state, Smith is free to offer “only websites containing Bible citations describing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” , regardless of religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics, they must sell whatever they offer to their customers . You can choose to purchase the
According to the state, Smith is proposing to post a message on the company’s website that reads, “You cannot create a website about same-sex marriage or any other marriage other than one man and one woman.” .
Under Colorado’s gay protection, Weiser wrote, “This amounts to an unlawful discrimination announcement akin to a ‘white applicants only’ sign.”
And it’s not enough for other companies to offer similar matrimonial services to same-sex couples, the state said. A court uncovered decades ago that a motel that wanted to serve only white guests and a restaurant that said his room with integrated dining violated his religious beliefs. A judgment has been handed down against the owner.
Smith’s Lawyer “Throwing up racism is just an attempt to close the discussion, and frankly, it’s offensive to denigrate people in that way.” said he would create a website for — as long as the couple was heterosexual.
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The point isn’t whether Smith is crafting the speech for profit, but “our First Amendment rights don’t depend on whether you’re trying to make a living,” Wagoner said. said.
Even finished products can be protected, Wagoner said.
Smith is endorsed by a long list of religious groups and scholars who argue that creating custom speeches is unlike the case for public institutions in the past.
Law professor Dale Carpenter, an advocate for gay rights, and Professor Eugene Volok, an expert on the First Amendment, said in a friend’s court opinion they could draw a line. The protected side of those who create expressions related to weddings: “website creators, authors, photographers, painters, singers, and similar speakers.”On the other hand, those who demonstrate outstanding performance Activities such as “baking, clothing design, architecture and other media”.
Colorado, backed by the Justice Department, has changed its position since the Phillips case under the Biden administration.Colorado also supports Such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends free speech.
Colorado law does not deserve the strictest court scrutiny because it is intended to provide an open service to all rather than to censor Smith’s opinions on the marriage, the ACLU said. I’m here.
According to the organization, a key study said: business activity Expressive, as 303 Creative claims, but Government interest Regulating it is for representation purposes. “